Does Primer Have to Be Perfect (Or Even)?

Everyone wants a smooth finish after painting. But does the primer coating have to be perfect to achieve a smooth finish? Here is the answer to that.

Primer doesn’t need to be perfect but it needs to seal every blotch, stain, crack hole, or dent in the material to allow the finish to come out smooth. You don’t need to pay much attention to the primer coating. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just cover every inch of the surface and let the primer coating do its magic.

Most primers are even self-priming meaning that the coating will dry smoothly regardless of how well you apply it.

But that’s not all. There is more to know about primer coating. For instance, does primer need to be even? Let’s find out.

Does Primer Need To Be Even?

Does Primer Need To Be Even?

Paint primer doesn’t need to be even except when you are putting a transparent sealant on the primer coating. Transparent sealants like polyurethane tend to reveal the texture of the undercoat. So, if you paint over the coarse primer with clear film, chances are the finish will not appear smooth.

Primer is used primarily to produce a smooth finish, especially on rough material. When you want to paint over fresh wood, concrete, or any other rough material, you need to prime the material first to seal the lines and to create a smooth surface for the paint to sit on.

For paint primer to achieve both these goals, the primer coating is usually designed to produce a smooth result regardless of how you applied the primer and the type of method used.

This is why you can apply paint primer with a paintbrush, roller, spray gun or even a wipe and still get a smooth finish. You should also know that though the primer coating is usually smooth, it still has tiny ridges in the coating that allows the paint applied to bite into the primer coating for proper adhesion.

This is why primers are advised in painting areas where adhesion is important. So in a way, primer is designed to not be 100% smooth.

However, it’s still proper advice to apply paint primer as smoothly as you can especially while dealing with clear sealants. So what happens if the primer isn’t even? Let’s find out.

What Happens If Primer Isn’t Even?

What Happens If Primer Isn’t Even?

In most cases, nothing happens. Most cases here mean times when you paint over the uneven primer with latex, water-based, or ordinary oil-based paints. All these paints are designed to stick properly regardless of the texture of the primer coating.

This is because these paints are designed to penetrate or bite into the primer coating to adhere well. So if the primer is uneven it doesn’t mean much.

However, if the primer coating is super rough, the finish can come out rough. This usually happens when the primer is applied wrongly with a roller. Paint rollers tend to leave irregular lines and patterns in wet paint if pressed into the paint coating during application.

In such cases, the primer will come out very uneven and rough. If you apply paint over such primer coating, the finish will be affected. It can cause uneven paint application, cracking, and eventually peeling off.

Also, uneven primer coating can affect your finish if you are dealing with a clear or transparent sealant. Clear top coats like polyurethane tend to reveal the texture of the undercoat. This is because sealants like polyurethane do not penetrate the material as well water or oil-based paints.

Most sealants just sit on the top layer of the undercoat. So if the primer coating is rough, the clear sealant will reveal some of that uneven texture when it dries.

Related Read: Can You Primer Over Peeling Paint?

Is Primer Supposed To Look Streaky?

Paint primer isn’t supposed to look streaky. In most cases, paint primer appears streaky when the primer coating was applied with a roller. If the roller is full of paint and you press it against the wall or surface, the paint will appear streaky.

If it’s a vertical surface like walls, the primer will also run and drip down to the floor. But your paint primer isn’t supposed to look anything like that.

Though paint primer doesn’t have to be 100% smooth, the primer coating shouldn’t be streaky either. If the primer coating is streaky, the paint will be riddled with bumps and paint pimples. This is because the streaky coating will have raised edges especially in a porous material like wood and plaster.

These raised edges are like splinters that will cause paint bubbles or pimples in the paint. This will make the finish uneven and rough.

If you apply primer and it appears streaky, there is a hack to make it better. In such cases, you should sand the primer coating with fine-grit sandpaper. The sandpaper will remove raised edges and smoothen out the grain.

What Should The First Coat Of a Primer Look Like?

The first coat of primer should cover every inch of the surface where the paint will be applied. The first coat of the primer coating is the most important because it ultimately determines how well subsequent coats will sit.

The first coat of primer doesn’t need to be smooth or fine. But it needs to cover every part of the surface that you intend to apply paint over. This is important for many reasons.

The first is that it helps to map out the area to be painted. When the first primer coating covers the entire area to be painted, you get a good view of where to paint and where not to paint. It’s like getting the map of the surface.

Secondly, by covering the entire surface, the first coat of primer seals every imperfection in the material. Hairline cracks, holes, dents, stains, and the likes are usually all covered by the first coat of primer.

So, the next coat that you apply doesn’t need to do much sealing. Instead, the coating dries to produce a smooth and slightly textured surface for the paint to bite and sit on.

This is why two coats of primer are usually advised for proper paint adhesion and smooth finish. So now you know the importance of having a smooth primer coating, how can you achieve a smooth primer coating? Let’s check out a few tips for that.

Related Read: Can You Use Primer as Paint?

Pro Tips To Make Primer Coating Even

  • Apply light coats. Heavy coats are more difficult to control and they lead to runs and drips.
  • Allow enough dry-time before re-coat.
  • Apply the primer with a paintbrush
  • Don’t mix different types of primers
  • Allow the final coat of primer to dry for at least 1 hour before painting.

But if you ever get a rough primer coating, you can sand with fine-grit sandpaper to smoothen the primer coating.

Can You Paint Over Uneven Primer?

You can paint over uneven primer if you are using self-leveling paint. Self-leveling paints are designed to produce a smooth finish regardless of how well you apply paint.

Also, if you are using thick paint, you can paint over uneven primer without consequences on your finish. This is because thicker paints have a thick flow so there is enough of the paint to fill and seal the uneven primer coating.

If you are using a light paint or sealant, you shouldn’t paint over the primer if the primer coating is uneven. This is because the light texture of the paint will allow the ridges and imperfections in the paint coating to show when the finish dries.

Also, light paints tend to build bubbles and paint pimples if used over uneven surfaces. The light paint coating is prone to tearing up especially if the primer coating is riddled with splinters or raised edges. The sharp edges will poke the light paint causing tiny holes in the paint coating that can allow air and moisture to get in. When this happens, the finish will not last long.

So to be on the safe side, always ensure the primer coating is applied as smoothly as possible to prevent early chipping, bubble formation, or splinters.

Related Read: What Color Of Primer Should You Use?

Final Words

Overall, paint primer doesn’t need to be even or perfect. You just need to ensure you cover every area of the material and the primer will do the rest.

But it’s also a good idea to make the primer coating as smooth as you can. This is why it’s better to apply the primer with a paintbrush where the chances of paint streaks are limited.

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